Els Launspach

* Teaching on Wednesday 14th

Institution
None. I am a so called Independent Arts & Crafts Professional, which means in my case that I publish essays, reviews and fiction. I teach at the Amsterdam School of the Arts (AHK) as a freelancer. My website is www.elslaunspach.nl.

Fields of Experience
I have written 7 novels for children, most of them with historical background. My academic training (MA 1981) however left its mark. In the Mickery theater and publishing in periodicals on theatre and screenwriting my aim was to increase awareness in several areas: gender, politics, history and eventually mimetic theory. My teaching concerns Greek tragedy and Shakespeare. In addition my most recent work, the novel Messire (Atlas 2008) has a play by Shakespeare as its focus.

Using mimetic theory
My encounter with René Girard was awkward. It happened in the cellars of my local library, where on one of the shelves devoted to Shakespeare I noticed a remarkable volume called Theater of Envy. Curious as my nature is, I started reading and discovered immediately that before benefiting from this book I should get to understand the basic Giardian views first. After some study I joined the Girard Circle at the VU in Amsterdam and developed an essay on Girard and the dramatic structure in tragedy. 

Theatre critic
Writing the above mentioned essay was fuelled by my own experiences as a theatre critic. Many years ago I had reviewed Dutch productions of Shakespeare´s play King Richard III, debunking the main character as a tyrant and a villain. After reading Girard (and at the same time researching for my novel Messire) I realized that the structure of the play was a plain application of the scapegoatmechanism, and that theatre critics were part of this phenomenon for centuries. That was quite a shock. Using my knowledge in the field of theatre-analysis, I devoted myself to explain what had happened.

Results
Though Shakespeare and Girard enjoy my deepest respect and love, I have some serious critical notes. See the Belgian quarterly Documenta (March 2009) and the online Theaterschrift Lucifer (nr. 8) for the outcome of my quest. Reading Shakespeare´s Richard III against the grain, a questioning of catharsis, was also presented at COV&R 2009 in London. I am looking forward to discuss these matters with you.